Mr Seán Canney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development today (Wednesday 13 May) welcomed the opening of a new “Innovate Together Fund”, a partnership between Government, Social Innovation Fund Ireland and the philanthropic community.

Following on from the announcement last week for a support package for the sector, this Fund is a unique transformative opportunity for Community and Voluntary organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises to innovate and adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Opening the call, Minister Canney stated:

“I am very pleased to open the Innovate Together Fund for applications. We are all aware of the challenges being faced at this time by organisations who work with the most vulnerable in our communities.
“We need to support them to adapt and innovate to respond to these existing and emerging challenges by backing new innovations. Examples of the type of innovations this Fund will support include a greater move towards online services for vulnerable people, re-skilling people to new ways of working and community outreach to vulnerable groups while social distancing.”

The Fund comprises a €5 million commitment from the Department of Rural and Community Development (the department), from the Dormant Accounts Fund, which will be supplemented over time by donations from the philanthropic sector. The Fund will be administered by Social Innovation Fund Ireland on behalf of the department with grants of up to €200,000 available. It will focus on responses to the COVID-19 crisis that deliver innovative and adaptive solutions to existing and emerging social challenges.

The Innovate Together Fund, is one of a suite of measures supported by the department to meet the challenges presented by the current pandemic.

Applications are being sought from organisations who have developed creative responses to the crisis which have lasting potential. These may relate to our community, our health, education, employability and economy. These innovations will support the most vulnerable in our society and those who have been most affected by the crisis and will ultimately help to make our society more inclusive, equal and sustainable.

Speaking about the opening of the Fund, Minister Canney said:

“As we look to rebuild our country, I believe now is the time to act and to collaborate with the philanthropic and social innovation communities to address the issues that have stemmed from the crisis and that will also be part of the ‘new normal’ when we recover.”

The first call under the Innovate Together Fund is open for applications until 27 May. Further details can be found on the department’s website www.gov.ie/drcd and at www.socialinnovation.ie.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

As part of the support package that was announced last week, the Innovate Together Fund is a unique transformative opportunity for the community and voluntary, charity and social enterprise sectors in Ireland to innovate and adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

The Fund comprises a €5 million commitment from the Department of Rural and Community Development (from the Dormant Accounts Fund) which will allow grants to be administered immediately and donations to be leveraged over time from the philanthropic community. The Fund will be administered by Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) on behalf of the department with grants of up to €200,000 available.

The focus of the Fund will be on backing innovations which are already developed or are being developed during the crisis that need to become the “new normal”, including innovations in organisations that are adapting and developing innovative business delivery models and/or income generation streams in a changing economic and societal landscape.

Purpose of the Fund

The purpose of the Fund is to support adaptation and innovation in finding solutions to emerging needs, for example:

  • enabling on-line education particularly for disadvantaged groups
  • online youth mental health interventions
  • community outreach to vulnerable groups while social distancing
  • re-skilling the workforce for new ways of working
  • developing the circular economy
  • new approaches to solutions for food security

Eligibility for Funding

Funds will be available to a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organization based in Ireland delivering services/activities in Irish communities.

Only organisations in existence prior to 1 January 2019 and operational on 1 March 2020 will be eligible as this will provide evidence of appropriate governance and financial stability.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate suitable governance and a fund management structure.

The Fund will open for applications on Wednesday 13 May until 27 May at 5pm. Further details can be found on the department’s website www.gov.ie/drcd and at http://www.socialinnovation.ie.

The Dormant Accounts Fund

The main purpose of the Dormant Accounts legislation is to reunite account or policy holders with their funds; and relevant institutions are required to take steps to identify and contact the owners of dormant accounts and unclaimed life assurance policies. Under the legislation, the rightful owners can reclaim their funds at any time.

In order to utilise funds that are unlikely to be reclaimed, the legislation introduced a scheme for the disbursement of funds that are unlikely to be reclaimed for the purposes of measures to assist those who are economically, socially or educationally disadvantaged, or persons with a disability.

Annual Dormant Accounts Action Plans are published each year, and generally provide funding of €35-40 million per annum for measures aimed at addressing disadvantage. This funding package is a once off package of €40 million, in addition to those annual action plans, and is made possible through a build-up in the funds available over the last number of years.

Social Innovation Fund Ireland

Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) is a national organisation supporting Ireland’s best social innovations through cash grants and business support. SIFI’s purpose is to make Ireland a better, more inclusive place through social innovation.

SIFI partners with corporates, SME’s, families and individuals who want new, tangible and real-world ways to tackle some of the pressing issues facing Irish society.

For more information see: Social Innovation Fund Ireland.

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